New year, new you: What to expect personally and professionally in the Year of the Rooster

by

Special To The Japan Times

If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution or have been too busy for the customary ōsōji (big cleanup) this holiday season, there is still time, according to feng shui. Under the Chinese philosophical system, the new year is marked by the lunar, rather than Gregorian, or solar, calendar, giving us about five weeks to prepare mentally and physically for 2017.

Jodi Brunner, a feng shui master who has studied and practiced the philosophy since 1998, is now laying the groundwork to usher in a healthy and prosperous 2017 on feng shui New Year’s Day (Feb. 4).

“Don’t worry if you’re not yet ready to welcome 2017,” Brunner says. “You can start now to prepare your home or business to receive good qi, the life force energy, this year.”

Literally meaning wind and water, feng shui is rooted in Chinese astrology and closely related to Taoism. It examines our environment and harmonizes people within it by maximizing positive influences and minimizing negative ones.

Historical evidence shows it has been used as an architectural aid for the location and direction of buildings and their contents since around 2000 B.C. While this usage remains, feng shui is also used widely today to predict what lies ahead and how to tap into one’s surroundings.

“Feng shui is the ancient art of being in the right place at the right time, and having a supportive environment in which to live and work,” Brunner says. “Many of the principles come from the simple understanding of our surroundings.”

Having relocated to Niigata Prefecture from Melbourne, Australia, in 2015, Brunner sees much evidence of this in her new home.

“In Japanese garden design in this region, trees naturally grow on the mountains at an angle because of the weight of the snow so, when designing a garden, it is natural that trees or taller plants are angled away from hills.” Similarly, in ikebana, she explains, a broad green leaf is positioned to face left because “it will naturally show its face and grow to capture the light.”

The feng shui master’s time in Japan to date as the owner and operator of a ski-in, ski-out restaurant has been a welcome addition to her vast experience in the industry as an international consultant, teacher and author. She admits that feng shui is less well-known here than in other countries, but believes there is perhaps a greater need for it, due to smaller living spaces. Moreover, given that rooms are often multipurpose or flexible in purpose, it may be easier to implement feng shui measures that optimize qi in Japan.

Utilizing her myriad qualifications in the philosophical system, Brunner has studied areas in homes and offices for people to watch in 2017.

“We have ways to foretell the natural things to do for ourselves and our environment, as every year we have annual influences affecting our lives,” she says. “We want to harness the beneficial energy and minimize the impact of the problematic qi that comes every year.”

Following the Chinese calendar, which rotates in 60-year cycles based on 12 animal years and five element years — wood, fire, earth, metal, and water — 2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster. While the fire monkey of 2016 was reportedly clever but naughty, the rooster is said by Chinese zodiac analysts to be the epitome of fidelity and punctuality, having served as an alarm clock for centuries.

Each animal sign occupies 30 degrees of the compass. As the rooster’s place is due west, Brunner cautions against any renovating, digging or other disturbance of the ground to the west of your home or office, as it can disturb luck. Similarly, if a westerly neighbor is undertaking such work, it can seriously hamper your own feng shui.

On a global level, Brunner expects an inharmonious year ahead due to conflict between the metal element of the rooster and the fire of the year. It may be more peaceful than 2016, the Year of the Fire Monkey, however — the rooster’s fire is yin (the passive female principle of the universe), while the monkey’s fire was yang (the active male principle).

However, our inability to pinpoint the center of the globe makes it difficult to predict specific events worldwide, Brunner says. As feng shui measures the Earth’s magnetic field, only after the center is located can an analysis be carried out of the stars affecting us in the north, south, east and west.

On a personal level, the animal year of an individual’s birth is said to influence his or her fortune.

“When animals clash, their elements will come out to the surface,” Brunner says. “Whether or not they are useful depends on each person’s astrology chart.”

Brunner is currently calming a large number of clients born in the Year of the Rabbit, who have a direct clash with the rooster. To offset the conflict, she recommends that people born in the Year of the Rabbit “seek wisdom, go with the flow, be more Zen and try to bring more harmony between people.”

Those born in the Year of the Ox, on the other hand, can expect more opportunities to be outspoken this year, she says. What they choose to do with those opportunities is up to them.

For most clients, though, the priority is ensuring their home and office are in tip-top condition in feng shui terms. Brunner begins by drawing a floor plan of the building and finding the four main compass points in order to apply an annual flying star chart. Each star is found in a different area of the building, where it will subsequently affect the occupants.

According to Brunner, people can expect calm in their home or office in 2017 thanks to Star 1’s position in the center of the building.

“It is one of the white stars, which means it has a generally positive influence, and also represents the element of water, which represents wisdom and love,” she says.

However, we can expect both positive and negative influences in other parts of our homes and workplaces this year.

Health

If your front door or bedroom is in the northwest, Star 2 can bring sickness into the house. Brunner says the best option is to move to another bedroom for the year but, if this is not possible, counteract the bad qi.

“Avoid red in the northwest. It is a fire color and, coupled with Star 2, it is more likely to bring sickness because fire feeds earth in the five elements,” she says. Using metallic colors on the bed and walls will reduce the negative impact, as will placing a Wu Lou bottle gourd next to the bed.

Star 2 will also bring sickness in business, as “debts will prove harder to recover and customers will be less likely to part with their money easily.”

People with their front door or bedroom in the south can also expect a difficult year due to the location of Star 5, the star that brings “ups and downs in life,” Brunner says. One difficulty may be sickness.

Brunner suggests “curing” the star by: using yellow to pacify it; adding a pendulum chiming clock that produces a metal sound; and avoiding pink, red and purple shades, as well as triangular shapes, which would all intensify its power.

Meanwhile, if your bedroom is in the east, you are in luck.

“Star 8, the most helpful and pleasant star, will protect your health with its steady, stable influence,” she predicts.

In terms of business health, having Star 8 at your door can bring a reliable, regular income to a home or business. As it represents the hands, craftspeople who make things at home, in particular, will find prosperity if they work in the east of the house.

Career and skills

The north of your home or business is critical for your career or position this year, as the area will be home to Star 6, which represents the boss or head of household.

“Star 6 is excellent for career success but you have to be prepared to work harder. Hang some certificates and qualifications in the north this year,” Brunner says.

She also advises spending time writing or studying in the northeast, where Star 4 will “boost your chances of academic success and, at the same time, give you more artistic opportunities.” For business, she adds, this is the ideal area for the marketing department in 2017.

Star 4 is also the most beautiful star for romance, so Brunner warns against placing a moving water feature there lest it activate too much romance and results in extramarital affairs.

Conflict

If you are in business, sales or competition for something, having your front door in the west is good news this year, as Star 3 will bring you success. For people in other industries, meanwhile, its presence can herald a competitor to take your opportunities or a burglar to rob the house.

“It is up to you how you use Star 3,” Brunner says. “In a bedroom, it can make a person more competitive or argumentative — and children are most susceptible to this type of qi.”

Likewise, being in the southeast of the house or office in 2017 may have a positive or negative influence, as the star there is fire.

“Star 9 will push you to perform and work harder. It can make you brighter and more radiant; it can improve your reputation; or it can bring problems because its effect depends on the stars it comes in contact with,” Brunner says.

Meanwhile, the communicative and destructive influence of Star 7 in the southwest can mean good earnings for people involved in construction or who have jobs that influence others.

“If you are in the business of changing people’s minds (working as a motivational speaker or playing an advisory role), Star 7 can help you break down barriers and create new ways of thinking,” Brunner says.

If you are not involved in the construction or influencing industry, however, spending time in the southwest of the building can “bring unkind or hurtful words to offend you, or destroy your plans or ideas.”

A reading of your home or office is designed to pinpoint qi to be aware of in the coming year but feng shui can be useful for anyone, even those who simply want to clean their living space and make a resolution, Brunner says. She recommends cleaning the home or office from top to bottom, starting at the front door and working clockwise. The windows should also be washed until they sparkle because they are the “eyes” of the building.

Crucial, too, is getting rid of the old to make way for the new.

“Fullness is yin and emptiness is yang,” she says. “To go with the natural flow of yin and yang, we should allow the yin to transpose to yang by cleaning and throwing stuff away.”

Brunner is an advocate of going through every drawer and cupboard in the entire building and getting rid of at least one thing, even if it means taking everything out. Moreover, rather than turning those unwanted objects into garbage, we should consider recycling them.

Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to do or not do something, she recommends making one about what to get rid of or do without.

After more than 20 years spent advising clients worldwide on feng shui practices, she has found a common theme: Most clients want health, wealth and happiness. While they think wealth means accumulating possessions, however, Brunner works to show them that it’s not monetary wealth that is the most valuable.

“My philosophy has always been that people should want less, need less and be happy with less,” she says. “In doing so, more things will come back to us in so many ways because we are ready to embrace them. We can come to a realization of what to do to have a happy and fulfilling life. And preparing for new things to come into our life is a good start to the new year.”We examine what to expect personally and professionally in the Year of the Rooster